Happily Bubbling Away
One of the frustrations of not being able to work at my art full-time, is the length of time it takes to complete a project. I know – I’m the first to agree that it’s not about completion but about the process. That being said, it’s still nice to see my efforts turn into a finished piece if for no other reason than to be able to answer in the affirmative when someone asks, “Is it done yet?”. Well, I’m very happy to report that this project has finally been completed.
Creating a water feature provided new challenges for me. The surface material was one I hadn’t worked with before, it was larger than I’d previously attempted, and must be able to withstand a constant stream of water flowing over and within it. I am so grateful to the many mosaic artists who provided answers to my questions by including them in their books.
Like my previous work, the first design step was to find images from which I could draw inspiration. I had decided some time ago that I would like to base my first water feature on a grotto. They, like tide pools are a part of the amazing natural beauty that drew me to this part of the world. I poured over photos from hikes we’d taken in the Santa Cruz Mountains, San Francisco Bay Area and in Hawaii finally settling on two images to use as the basis for the work.
I started laying down glass using my usual organic method, trying to depict water flowing over earth as well as the foliage around it. I tend to use the images I choose as a starting point and once I get going refer back periodically only to look for a new shape or colour combination.
When cutting the tile I try to ensure that there is a variety of shapes and sizes. I lay them down in clusters that both radiate and fall. Lines go in multiple directions and slice across other sections, all in an attempt to give the impression of motion.
Although I love the greens and earthy tones of a grotto, as I worked I found myself including floral elements suggestive of some of our beautiful California native plants. The delight and risk of working organically is that the finished piece rarely bears much resemblance to the one I had in my head when I started.
One of the difficulties I’ve encountered in making mosaics is with grouting. For some reason, I can’t seem to get a piece grouted without leaving behind air bubbles and strange divots. Because I know when I’m licked, I enlisted the help of my wonderful husband Jack – a graphic artist with almost infinite patience – to do the grouting for me.
Once the grouting was complete I took over again, cleaning off the excess grout. When the remaining grout was sufficiently cured I went in and detailed every tile, making sure there was none of it left where it shouldn’t be.
I then put it back in Jack’s hands, who dug a trench to lay conduit from the pump to the wall outlet, did the necessary wiring, leveled the ground where the fountain was to sit and anything else that needed to be done in order to get the thing running smoothly.
Unfortunately the supplier of the pump didn’t have the right size in stock and this one proved a little too powerful for the fountain, but, ever resourceful, Jack used a cork to narrow the passage from the pump to the spigot and so…
To you lovely people who leave comments: I always respond to your remarks but unfortunately with previous articles, you weren’t informed when a reply was posted. I believe that bug is corrected and you can now make the choice to be notified when I reply or someone else remarks on your comment. Comments by e-mail, I’m afraid, will continue to come only to me, at least for the time being. I’m working on adding the option to have them posted to the blog as well.
Unfortunately it appears that notifications are not being sent. Still at the drawing board. My apologies.